Cost of potholes revealed

Pot Holes
Pot Holes

Council bosses poured more than £1 million into fixing nearly 11,000 potholes in West Suffolk in the last two years, new figures have revealed.

Suffolk County Council spent £513,896 in 2014/15 up to March, to repair 4,814 potholes in St Edmundsbury and Forest Heath areas, and £529,424 to mend 5,925 in 2013/14.

The figures – released after a Freedom of Information (FOI) request – also show the scale of compensation paid to cover damage to vehicles caused by potholes in the last four years.

In 2014/15, compensation payouts cost the authority £28,249 after two large claims totalling £21,380 from 2008 and 2009, and several other older claims, were settled.

The council paid £588 in compensation in 2013/14, £2,131 in 2012/13 and £5,349 in 2011/12.

Even more potholes were repaired in West Suffolk than the number reported to the county council. An estimated 3,067 were reported in 2014/15 up to March, and 3,747 in 2013/14.

Guy Smith, assistant area highways manager for the county council, said this was thanks to staff discovering potholes and road damage during routine inspections.

An A-class road such as the A143 between Bury and Haverhill would be inspected monthly, with smaller roads looked at every six months.

Mr Smith said he was not surprised at the number of potholes needing attention.

“West Suffolk is the whole of Forest Heath and St Edmundsbury, so that’s quite a large proportion of the county,” he said. “Those figures have been relatively running at a constant level in the last five or six years.”

He added that pothole repairs benefited from Government funding in 2014/15 including £2.9 million from the Severe Weather Fund, with the Western area receiving £550,000, and £2.2 million from the Pothole Challenge Fund, of which West Suffolk had £600,000.

Paul Watters, head of roads policy for the AA, noted the cost of fixing a pothole was £60 and that an Asphalt Industry Alliance survey found compensation claims had doubled nationally to £20.2 million.

He said: “All of that is counter-productive because the money could have been better spent fixing the roads. We’ve luckily had a reasonably good winter.

“We hope we’re coming out of it with less damage than last year – but potholes look like they’re here to stay for the foreseeable future.”